Covid 12/2: But Aside From That

This weekly post is for things that are not Omicron. For the Omicron news, see my Omicron updates (#1, #2, #3), the last of which came out the same day as this post. There’s an extensive speed premium, so I’ve gone to a more-than-weekly schedule on that, although I hope to return to weekly-only soon and only do 0-2 more non-Thursday Omicron posts. We’ll see how that goes.

The news other than Omicron was relatively quiet and expected, except for the part where we are at best barely approving Molnupiravir (post on that here). Too quiet, as case counts and deaths dropped an extreme amount due to the holiday, far more than I expected. That makes predicting next week’s numbers especially hard, but I expect a lot of cases and deaths to be officially tallied next week.

Executive Summary

  1. Omicron is coming, see update posts (#1, #2, #3).
  2. Paxlovid remains illegal, Molnupiravir is touch and go.
  3. Cases continue dropped a lot and so did deaths, presumably due to Thanksgiving.

Let’s run the numbers.

The Numbers

Predictions

Prediction from last week: 620k cases (+3%) and 7,240 deaths (-5%).

Results: 528k cases (-11%) and 6,329 deaths (-16%).

Prediction for next week: 630k cases (+20%) and 8,000 deaths (+26%)

I did attempt to adjust for the holiday, I swear I did, but this was a gigantic swing in reporting, much much bigger than last year’s. We know it is reporting because it shows up in both cases and deaths, and there’s no possible way deaths fell substantially last week. That means that there’s a shortfall of at least a thousand ‘missing’ deaths that haven’t been reported yet, and at least 100k cases.

There’s always some chance a miracle happened given how large the change was, but that’s not what I expect.

How much of that gets missed permanently, versus how much gets put into next week, is unclear, so this is one of the hardest weeks to predict.

Deaths

Cases

Vaccinations 

It doesn’t look like all the noise about Omicron is motivating people to get boosted or vaccinated, and it’s now been a while since kids were eligible. Numbers declined a lot.

It’s not the WHO this time, it’s the WTO, and I’m not generally a fan of waving patent rights, if you want the patent rights then there’s a price at which they are for sale and you can always go ahead and Cut Lex Luther a Check, but wow should the you not let a new variant stop you? I’ll let Zeynep take this one.

I do think you want to buy or otherwise urgently arrange for patent/IP waivers for the antivirals, that’s probably the most important thing right now, but seriously, there’s no big fundamental skills/secrets issue like there is with mRNA, this isn’t hard, at most all you have to do is cut the check.

Permanent Midnight

There’s saying the quiet part out loud. And then there’s not realizing it was even supposed to be the quiet part in the first place.

There it is:

“We’re never going to go back to normal. Personally, I don’t think I will ever get on a plane without wearing a mask,” said Patti Solis Doyle, a Democratic strategist who worked closely with Biden during Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.

Meanwhile, the continued delusion that somehow credit is deserved for the existence of human life, or something.

“The administration has gotten us to a place where we can do things, where we can see our family and our friends and go shopping and go to a movie and do the things that bring back normalcy into our lives,” Solis Doyle said. “I don’t think he gets enough credit for that.”

It’s up to you whether to do those things. The only role ‘the administration’ has in that question is whether they’re going to use men with guns to stop you.

As noted above, he’s tying that decision to vaccination rates rather than tying it to any actual cost-benefit calculation, which should tell you what the actual calculation was.

Vaccine Effectiveness

Giant New York study (direct link) concludes vaccines remain effective against severe disease, but finds decline (although not continuous decline) in effectiveness against infection. Seems broadly consistent with many other findings. Likely won’t be that relevant soon thanks to Omicorn, and in the meantime behaviors likely shouldn’t change much, so I’m not going to invest in a deeper dive at this time.

There’s also the NBA’s findings.

It’s a smaller sample size, but it’s still reasonably big and the methodology here seems quite good. Intentional experiments are illegal so ‘natural’ ones like this (or what we found in New York) will have to do. Where else are we going to test and monitor a group of people this reliably?

Not having the raw data limits the upside, as does framing the questions entirely in terms of the booster eligibility thresholds. There’s no way six months and two months are exactly optimal according to the NBA data, all the NBA is telling us is that if one chooses that cutoff one finds an effect, rather than that time length being optimal if you look at the curves involved.

The key fact is that there were 34 cases of vaccinated players diagnosed with breakthrough infections, and all 34 had much lower antibody levels than the rest of the population. There are about 450 players in the NBA. It’s unclear how many remain unvaccinated, but let’s say ~50. This seems to imply something like, if we took those 400 vaccinated players and split them into two equal groups of 200, the lower-antibody group has 34 cases and the higher antibody group would have zero cases, and since we said ‘much lower’ we could likely do a 2:1 or higher ratio and get the same answer.

The chance of that being a coincidence is epsilon, and suggests that testing one’s antibody levels has high value of information. If they remain high, regardless of when you were boosted, you can treat yourself as outright immune for all practical purposes. If they’re low, you can choose whether to get a booster. I do realize this is not a practical solution for ‘the public,’ it’s too complicated on several levels, but it’s not too complicated for you if you are reading this and worried about maintaining protection and also worried about the cost of continuous booster shots.

Vaccine Mandates

The common ‘look what you made me do’ energy:

When we make rules that are meant to punish non-compliance, or that set up a lot of arbitrary barriers, what we often end up doing instead is punishing scrupulousness and honesty.

We also then turn around and blame the nonsensical punishment on the person who didn’t do what we wanted, rather than on the person deciding to administer the nonsensical punishment. The reason the unvaccinated person is ‘selfish’ is because if they are exposed to Covid-19, and then someone else is exposed to them, that this other person lost their doctor’s appointment. There’s no mention of them perhaps getting sick or actually spreading the disease. That’s quite the tip-off.

Yes, being vaccinated absolutely provides a public good, and ideally people should factor that into their calculations. But if you think that public good is mostly ‘reducing the number of arbitrary inconveniences imposed on others’ rather than mostly being ‘reducing number of people who get sick and number of people who die’ then which one of those is the real pandemic at this point?

Paxlovid Remains Illegal

Claims that everything possible is being done continue to fly in the face of the simple fact that Paxlovid remains illegal.

This isn’t some technicality. Paxlovid is by far the best weapon we have. Nor is it merely a nominal delay. Treatments barely get mentioned at all in people’s plans or speeches, including Biden’s on Tuesday. We are seeing no logistical efforts to prepare to distribute Paxlovid in a timely manner to those who need it once it is approved, nor are we seeing a serious effort to maximize production capacity around the world.

I presume that such treatments are a threat to the narrative that people bring Covid-19 upon them by being irresponsible (read: sinful) and thus must make various Sacrifices to the Gods in the hopes of making this stop. Treatments aren’t a sacrifice, and aren’t a morality play. In addition, any mention of them, or any encouragement, would lead people to be less eager to get vaccinated or take other preventative measures, and we can’t have that.

So, silence and delay.

Dan Elton does the math on how many people the FDA is going to kill, concludes it is only ~7k, due to expectation that most cases couldn’t be caught in time, and his decision to ignore the effect of approval delays on manufacturing and deployment. I don’t think that’s the right way to do the calculation and I think we can catch more cases than this.

There’s also our reluctance to approve Molnupiravir, which I discuss at the link.

NPIs Including Mask and Testing Mandates 

This must be some strange use of the word ‘rule’ that I wasn’t previously aware of:

I do not think it is helpful to make statements like this, that there is no authority to implement or enforce, and that sound exactly like making someone wear a dunce camp because they refused to do their homework.

It is also not all that helpful to make at-home tests ‘insurance reimbursable’ as opposed to ‘free’ and conflating the two or thinking the former solves your problems shows a fundamental misunderstanding about how humans work. Seriously, this is the opposite of hard.

This MR post about ‘the mask debate’ seems to suggest that second-order effects are so confusing and hard to measure, and the motivations involved so conflicted, that we shouldn’t much care about how much the masks actually prevent a given possible infection? I agree that control systems and the long-term nature of the game make it tough to know how much masks matter in the end, even if we did know exactly how much they did stop a given possible infection, but it still seems very important to know (or get our best estimate of) the extent of this effect. Because experimentation is illegal, and there’s no other good way to get data, we will never know, and we will continue to give up massive amounts of value as a result.

I do think it’s important to notice when there are large forces that do not want us to know things, in that sense this post is instructive.

The charitable interpretation is that the study in question is already doing population effects in the medium-term, so it already makes all of this super murky in all these ways, but the response to this needs to be to try and turn that into a best guess about direct transmission via additional gears, rather than protesting that gears are confusing and some people won’t like them, or something?

There was then a direct response from Jason Abaluck that was posted to MR, in particular to the claim that ‘with more data transparency [the study] does not seem to be holding up very well.’ I find the response convincing in the sense that it points out that the study is holding up fine by its own design and intent, it’s more that some interpretations of the study did not initially well-correspond to the actual contents of the study, and that studying such things is hard which makes it difficult to know how to properly interpret the data.

I do find myself confused about the intuition that a linear model is meaningful here? We’re dealing with a medium-term result, so why should additional mask wearing, however effective at preventing a specific infection at a particular time and place, translate into a linear reduction in the equilibrium number of cases? This would be a strange kind of control system, and the linearity assumption is less natural than it might look. The results largely fitting into that linear interpretation is therefore weird as well.

In other mask news, the perspective here seems clarifying, in two distinct ways – both for the people being described, and the people who do this kind of describing.

Hemry does not, it seems, think there was ever a lockdown or could ever be one in the future, or that restrictions on freedom can be thought of as a sacred value, or that one would worry about them because of what they symbolize or what they normalize and thus enable in the future rather than their direct impact. There’s also the implication that masks and other ongoing restrictions have no downsides worth mentioning, or which are trumped by other values that are sacred, which I keep running into. It also clarifies the default position of similar people that they are simply right, and those who disagree are simply wrong and are full of misinformation.

Hemry’s insight here is that they have a different ethical framework, and that’s more central to the disagreement than disagreements over physical properties of Covid-19. This is then framed as an ethical framework that ‘doesn’t respond to ‘better’ information’ and that is ‘withdrawn from the social compact as we generally understand’ because the ‘we’ in question who are entitled to determine the social compact excludes those with this other framework who understand the compact differently, and the two have different ideas about what information is important here.

I have not personally heard anyone refer to mask requirements and other clearly not-a-lockdown restrictions with the word ‘lockdown’ but I totally believe that this happens, and that the mindset behind that conflation is reasonably common.

For clarity: My working definition of ‘lockdown’ (to the extent it is a simple Yes/No across domains) is that it is a lockdown when people are told to close a large percentage of their places of business, and an ‘X lockdown’ is when some aspect of life X is closed down (so you might for example ‘lockdown the beaches’). A ‘full lockdown’ is when you need a justification for leaving your house.

Then again, while it’s not technically lockdown if you’re required to wear a mask in your own house whenever anyone visits, I am somewhat sympathetic to the alternative viewpoint in cases like this:

The Santa Cruz County, California, health officer has announced that masks will be required indoors indefinitely as part of its efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Private homes are exempt from the order if only members of the household are present. But if there are people who live elsewhere inside the home, everyone must wear a mask. The order does not exempt those who are fully vaccinated.

Princeton continues to ban social gatherings of more than 20 people. A student asks them to perhaps reconsider, suggests slightly less over-the-top security measures that could perhaps be used instead to make the necessary Sacrifices to the Gods.

In Other News

This attitude seems healthy and totally how science works rather than super creepy and authoritarian and cult-of-personality:

Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Sunday that Republican lawmakers who criticize him are “criticizing science, because I represent science.”

Not Covid

For those that missed it, this is perfect: The trouble with NFTs. They stole Quark’s apes!

And if you missed it, don’t ask Santa unless you’re prepared to pay a premium price, I wish all news was this clear yet this only raises further questions edition:

Image

What I don’t know is whether this is a comparison to 2020 or to 2019, and I choose to ponder it without checking. If it’s 2020, it’s rather amazing the supply is down. If it’s 2019, it’s rather amazing the supply is up.

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39 Responses to Covid 12/2: But Aside From That

  1. Anonymous-backtick says:

    Maybe Fauci played Deus Ex once and decided that his life’s goal was to be Walton Simons.

    • Eye Beams Are Cool says:

      2010 Take: The villians in Atlas Shrugged are overthetop and unrealistic.
      2020 Take: Atlas Shrugged is not a how-to manual!!!
      2021 Take: Can we trade our current villians for the Atlas Shrugged one please?

  2. Nick H says:

    Reposting this comment since this is probably the post that will get more engagement:

    Are you guys concerned at all about receiving n+1 doses of booster from now until the end of time given that the 330,000 pages of data the FDA used to authorize Pfizer et. al will not be fully available to the public until 55 years from now?

    https://www.reuters.com/legal/government/wait-what-fda-wants-55-years-process-foia-request-over-vaccine-data-2021-11-18/

    Because even if adverse effects are rare, you’re continuously rolling the dice each time you receive a booster.

    High risk individuals, sure, get your 2nd, 5th booster. But I really don’t see the point for anyone else, given that these are non-sterilizing vaccines.

    • Anonymous-backtick says:

      The most convincing version I’ve seen of vaccine safety concerns is that the rare cardiovascular side effects are caused by injecting the vaccine into a blood vessel instead of just muscle tissue. The proper procedure to inject it involves “aspirating”: pulling back the plunger a little after inserting the needle to see if blood flows back into the syringe, and if it does pulling the needle and trying a different spot. But many people administering the vaccine don’t do that.

      So if you’re worried about safety but need to get the booster anyway for work/etc., could consider telling the adminstrant to do this and leaving if they don’t agree.

    • shakeddown says:

      That the FDA has a large number of pages it won’t release is not in itself any sort of concerning news, because it’s exactly what I expected. I know they’re a massively bureaucratic organization with giant amounts of paperwork, so I’d expect them to have that amount of paperwork on the vaccine. And I know they’re inefficient and have a lot of data publicity/privacy concerns, so I wouldn’t expect them to release it in a reasonable time frame. And I wouldn’t actually want to read those pages anyway, since they’re mostly just FDA paperwork, not real information.

      This is similar to how I never actually go check my building’s elevator safety certificate (and if I did try, I’m sure it would turn out to have an unreasonably large number of pages and my building would take forever to show it to me).

    • Eye Beams are Cool says:

      No. I put aproximatly 0 weight behind the FDA’s work and a shit load of weight behind looking at the people who have already received the vaccine and can be observed for longer than any of the FDA’s studies.

      For reference, I know that the Gulf War veterains were done dirty with the smallpox vaccine that was unsafe, unneeded, and only sort of approved because the military can say “Fuck you that’s why” to congress. So that’s my “I’m not a maximalist” card, if you’d like to scan the QR code.

    • Brett Bellmore says:

      “Because even if adverse effects are rare, you’re continuously rolling the dice each time you receive a booster.”

      But probably a different set of dice for different people. This guy got the D20, that guy got the D6, that poor guy over there got the coin, instead, and it’s a trick coin, two heads.

      If you had a bad reaction last shot, you’re pretty much guaranteed a worse reaction on the next. If you didn’t, the odds are lower, but possibly rising with each shot.

      I still think we ought to cook up a cocktail of all the coronavirus common colds, and distribute that as a live vaccine. Build up a general resistance to the whole family of viruses, so as to minimize severity, rather than guarantee not getting it.

  3. AnonCo says:

    Zvi – would you consider adding a section or any entire post to parsing some of the news coming from other countries?
    -Giant protests in Austria and others that go mostly unmentioned in the US
    -Video and Images coming out of the Australian so called “Covid camps”, massive fines, escapes.
    -and of course, today, German locking down only unvaxxed

    I’ve seen a lot of this picking up over the last 2 weeks or so, doubly for omicron, but it’s really very difficult to parse fact from info-warfare on this stuff.

    Thanks!

    • TheZvi says:

      I’ll see what I can do, the problem is that this isn’t actually my job and with Omicron I’ve been putting in more time on this than I can sustain.

      I do note things from elsewhere sometimes but my feeds aren’t set up to capture stuff in Europe like protests very well – if there are indeed massive protests they’re being mostly ignored by my sources, unfortunately.

      • AnonCo says:

        Understood. We do appreciate the work.

        I won’t link to NYT, but they did run a story baout Austria protests last week.

        Austrailia continues decent into total police state. These are just examples, but seem legitimate

        https://theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/dec/01/nt-police-search-for-three-people-who-escaped-from-howard-springs-covid-quarantine-facility

      • Yellowface Anon says:

        I suppose those protests represents the views of like, 20-30% of of population who are by nature right-wing (even far-right) and wary of a left-leaning (but not left-wing) political establishment. Their concerns are understandable and I sympathize with them in some way, since it is fundamentally about what extraordinary measures should not become normalized, but as usual, it will become a political vehicle for some right-wing opportunists to push thru their own socio-political agendas after promising some form of the Old Normal, stuff like identitarian politics in France, Duginism in Russia, and libertarianism & agrarianism in America. Those are very far from what people expect of a return to the Old Normal.

        Keep up the work Zvi, you think about the public health dimensions of COVID very clearly without getting too much in politics.

    • Yellowface Anon says:

      It isn’t Hitler-level evil yet. If the EU really wants to enforce its upcoming universal vaccine mandate, they can ship the hardcore antivaxx to such camps, and jail them until they surrender. This is basically a Crime Against Humanity!

      I don’t know how to explain such a turn to authoritarianism outside of those conspiracies involving Davos and/or the WHO. Seems that they are intentionally promoting some form of resistance in the form of antivaxx/anti-lockdown thru excessive administrative acts, and then frame them as a target for the rest of the population to legitimize authoritarian measures, which is straight from the “Islamic terrorism”/Patriot Act playbook.

  4. Zahmahkibo says:

    “The key fact is that there were 34 cases of vaccinated players diagnosed with breakthrough infections, and all 34 had much lower antibody levels than the rest of the population. There are about 450 players in the NBA. It’s unclear how many remain unvaccinated, but let’s say ~50. This seems to imply something like, if we took those 400 vaccinated players and split them into two equal groups of 200, the higher-antibody group has 34 cases and the lower antibody group would have zero cases, and since we said ‘much lower’ we could likely do a 2:1 or higher ratio and get the same answer.”

    Am I failing at reading comprehension, or should the group descriptions be swapped here? If low antibodies are associated with breakthrough infection, then we’d expect the high-antibody group to be the one with 0 cases, not 34.

  5. John Schilling says:

    Regarding the NBA data: how many of the 34 breakthrough infections symptomatic, or is that data not available? To a first approximation, I don’t really care about asymptomatic infections because to a first approximation asymptomatic infections neither inconvenience the “victim” nor threaten anyone else – last time I checked, asymptomatic (as opposed to presymptomatic) transmission is, while not impossible, extremely rare. Though possibly that has changed with e.g. Omicron.

    Otherwise, to the extent that the vaccine is preventing *symptomatic* infection, it’s doing everything we can hope for and it does not matter whether someone with a sufficiently perceptive test can find traces of the virus in someone’s body, Or at least it shouldn’t matter – I expect that we will still have people responding to an uptick in the number of clinically-insignificant infections as a new “wave” of “Breakthrough COVID”, and demanding that we lock down, mask up, and socially distance the COVID away. Again.

    If, instead, we’re still seeing a significant amount of symptomatic infection in vaccinated individuals, then that’s a real problem, for which boosters might be the solution (but maybe they’ll need to be Omicron-specific boosters going forward).

  6. Eye Beams are Cool says:

    Lets say I want to get my antibodies tested like is discussed in the NBA section, but I’m not smart enough to know what I need. What would I say to my doctor, or what direct-order blood test would I be looking for? Thanks

    • lunashields says:

      You don’t even need a doctor, it will save you money. Go to any instant clinic, tell them you want covid antibody test. They will say “we have 2 options, yes/no and qualitative”. Choose qualitative.

  7. Basil Marte says:

    “if we took those 400 vaccinated players and split them into two equal groups of 200, the higher-antibody group has 34 cases and the lower antibody group would have zero cases”
    “If it’s 2020, it’s rather amazing the supply is down. If it’s 2019, it’s rather amazing the supply is up.”
    Obligatory codelesscode: http://thecodelesscode.com/case/66

    “This must be some strange use of the word ‘rule’ that I wasn’t previously aware of:
    I do not think it is helpful to make statements like this, that there is no authority to implement or enforce”
    It’s a revelation from the Sky-Father a.k.a. Science and its enforcement mechanism is that since society is just barely above Dunbar’s number, public embarrassment is worse than death.

  8. Dave says:

    Zvi, thanks as always for being a one-stop shop for useful Covid information.

    I have a bit of an overarching criticism of several things you say in this post, though. It seems to me like you are indulging in a bit of what one might call “gotcha politics.”

    Like the line from Fauci that he “represents science,” the quote from Solis Doyle about never getting back on a plane without a mask (“Personally”… she’s 56 and may have some kind of higher-risk condition for all we know), the quote from Biden about masking or vaxxing being a “rule” (by which he may well mean “a rule to live by”)… I would say that you are leaning heavily in the direction of uncharitable interpretations for these statements. Each one has a more benign reading than you’re giving them, and insofar as they do have some more sinister undertones, the explanation is probably just that these people didn’t get what they were trying to say across especially well in this one instance.

    It just feels a bit reminiscent of people jumping on Obama for saying “you didn’t build that.” It’s up to you where you want to focus your writing, of course, but speaking for myself, I come here for the science, the analysis and the strategy, and not for the gotcha politics. Substantive ethical argument about issues is great, to be clear, but psychoanalyzing statements from your least favorite public figures (with a rather fine-toothed comb, too) seems like a waste of time, and it’s the sort of thing that keeps me far away from Twitter.

    • TheZvi says:

      That’s fair, it’s definitely a concern. I thought these particular statements were very much relevant, but I can see the case that Doyle is being picked on in a non-helpful way here. For Fauci I do think it’s relevant in the ‘thing you say into the open mic at the crucial moment in the movie’ kind of way except he did it on purpose.

      • arch1 says:

        Zvi, as a newbie I agree w/ all of Dave’s points, and am delighted you’re open to (and potentially affected by) even the critical parts of such mixed feedback.

        It’s clear from the video that Fauci simply meant that the political attacks around vaccination policy and the like incorporate a significant anti-science sentiment, and that this is dangerous; and that to the extent such attacks focus on Fauci, he’s just being used as a proxy for science because it’s easier to attack a person than an abstract concept.

        Which isn’t super-creepy, authoritarian, or cult-of-personality. At most I think Fauci’s guilty here of infelicitous wording (ideally he would have said “…I represent science *in their minds*”, or some such, to more effectively anticipate just such mischaracterizations).

      • arch1 says:

        I should have said “the proxy of the moment” rather than “a proxy” (Fauci makes clear that his concern with attacks on science extends well beyond his own departure from the stage).

      • TheZvi says:

        Yep, I hear everything everyone has to say, and I do my best to take it to heart. In some sense, the whole point of talking into the void is that sometimes the void talks back.

        I can see a world in which Fauci’s being taken out of context, but the reason it’s resonating is that it sounds like something that many these days would indeed say. There’s a cult of personality there whether or not Fauci tried to create one. The whole thing has what Colbert calls truthiness, whereas not too long ago it wouldn’t have. I mean, when you have a giant portrait of yourself in your office, it’s gonna be harder to get the benefit of the doubt on such things.

        Either way, of course, ultimately the play’s the thing, and this is not the play.

      • Dave says:

        Yes, thanks for taking this in the spirit it was intended. Cheers!

      • Dave says:

        PS I regret that my OP makes it sound like I accept the fiction that non-Trump politicians write their own tweets

      • Trevor says:

        Perhaps I should be more charitable, but Fauci’s comment does sort of make me want to start refering to him as the minister of truth. I probably don’t disagree that much on questions of fact, but a lot of what he has to say is opinion as well as fact. E.G. if he wants to represent science all he gets to say about mask mandates is that masks probably decrease transmission of viruses some, but other than that it is a question of trade offs and values which can be informed by science, but is not a scientific question, as it does not have a testable hypothesis, and as such he has nothing more to say.

  9. Evan Þ. says:

    We need a convenient word for “public health mandates that weren’t in force back in 2019 which cause some continuing burden,” because we’ll want to talk about them. It seems that “lockdown” is the word, because it’s the word we heard so often in spring 2020, and we haven’t heard any other word since.

    So yes, I’ll call bans on large conventions “lockdowns.” I’ll call mask mandates “lockdowns.” I wouldn’t personally call a vaccine mandate “lockdown” because you can just go get the shot once (or two or three times) and it’ll all be over, but I’d understand if someone else did. I agree there’s a stricter sense of “lockdown” as distinct from things like that, but I haven’t heard any other word for the category.

  10. thechaostician says:

    You seem to think that The Lockdown is defined by the law / policy. Instead, the more important question is whether you have accepted The Lockdown into your heart.

    People used to think that The Lockdown was a matter of law and that through the law we can be saved. We know now that is not true. By the law everyone is condemned. It is only through grace that we can be spared the penalties of the law.

    Vaccination is the beginning of accepting The Lockdown. But it is only the beginning. From then on, let the love of The Lockdown manifest in your heart. The details of your behavior are not as important as whether they are a consequence of the true love of The Lockdown.

    Whether or not someone is a good person is not based on whether they follow the details of the law. It’s whether they love and wish to serve The Lockdown.

    ———————————

    This is not my position. I would not be surprised if neither Hemry nor the rightwing bargoer thinks this way or models other people as thinking this way.

    I do think that it is plausible that some people’s thoughts are approximated by this attitude and probable that some people model other people as believing this. Protestantism is deeply rooted in the American psyche. When people say that they’re worried that anti-covid-ism is becoming a religion, this is a likely interpretation.

    A quick Google search reveals that, yes, these arguments exist, but in the UK they are more likely to emphasize rules. Almost like they’re Anglicans instead of Baptists.
    https://www.pulsetoday.co.uk/views/coronavirus/covid-is-the-new-religion-and-that-is-the-gospel-truth/
    Although, no, that’s not what Reformist / Reformed Christianity is. Reformed Christianity is Calvinism. What’s described there is Liberal Christianity.

    • Yellowface Anon says:

      It feels like what a lot of libertarians, who thinks of the way how statist norms are normalized thru propagating institutional dogmas, see the whole agenda. If they do a serious critique of the COVID restriction mentality (and maybe even Agamben-like philosophers who use the concept of biopolitics), it will sound like this.

      ———–

      I read the libertarian coverage of COVID very heavily when it started and I still feel like a lot of those aren’t sincerely done for public health, but for hidden political and economic agendas (which libertarians surely also have their own and implementing it right now by encouraging agorism among antivaxxers). If it was really done for public health, I assume NPIs would be considered far more exceptional than the way it’s normalized right now, and we’d never have mandates or vaccine passports. But we live in a clown world, and it’s up to everyone to decide based on their understanding & principles whether to conform or to stand up.

  11. Michael Harris says:

    Re the mask study. They claim to have measured social distancing and found that the masked villages were better at it.

    When you say the control system should equalize things do you mean some unmeasured forms of behavior or something else entirely?

  12. If antibody levels are important information, does this suggest that going off slide 23 here (https://www.fda.gov/media/153128/download), that a J&J booster wouldn’t provide as much, or as long-lasting, protection as a Pfizer/Moderna one?

    As a 30-year-old guy who’d initially gotten Pfizer, I’ve been considering a J&J vaccine to minimize my myocarditis risk. The rate of myocarditis after a second mRNA dose seemed to be ~1 in 10,000, which was ~6x than after the first dose. This made me worry that it might be even higher after the third dose. Some early data from Israel seems to alleviate this concern (https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/israel-reports-very-few-myocarditis-cases-after-pfizer-boosters-2021-10-01/), but I haven’t found the report itself, so I can’t tell what the risk really is for my sex/age cohort. Any thoughts on this?

  13. Kees says:

    > Likely won’t be that relevant soon thanks to Omicorn, and in the meantime behaviors likely shouldn’t change much, so I’m not going to invest in a deeper dive at this time.

    Omicorn is my favorite type of corn.

  14. Triskele says:

    New Brunswick, Canada, found a sacrifice to the gods (I love this phrase. Also I’m not sure how to use a text formatter here, so omitting some text for clarity)

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/covid-19-new-brunswick-winter-plan-christmas-shephard-1.6272151

    The entire province will be in Level 1, the lowest level of restrictions, when the plan goes into effect. It includes the following rules and guidelines:
    (…some familiar restrictions, then)
    –> Malls, GROCERY STORES, salons have the option of requiring proof of vaccination from all patrons. <–
    "The measures are not difficult," Shephard said, noting "the power to keep us in level one is in our hands."

    ….and this is level #1.
    This is also the premier that called the national vaccine council anti-vaxxers for suggesting women under 30 didn't get one of the vaccine types, maybe he is an outlier, but this is counterproductive in a few ways.

  15. Yosarian says:

    >“We’re never going to go back to normal. Personally, I don’t think I will ever get on a plane without wearing a mask,” said Patti Solis Doyle, a Democratic strategist who worked closely with Biden during Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.

    We should get rid of mask mandates and such as quickly as we can, and I will be glad to stop wearing a mask, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this. If he *personally* wants to continue wearing masks on airplane flights indefinitely, which is maybe 12 hours a year or something, more power to him, and that might not be unreasonable if you think airplane flights are especially likely to expose you to germs from other places.

  16. Yellowface Anon says:

    Quite sad to see hardcore antivaxx becoming a permanent fixture of the political scene over some bugs in the existing vaccines. They have been conflating it with opposing mandates and vaccine passports, which I think are more legitimate. It’s pretty much throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-59363256
    https://www.politico.eu/article/finger-pointing-follows-death-of-italian-teenager-linked-to-oxford-astrazeneca-shot/

    I heard that in one of the now regular antivaxx protests in Italy, the protesters showed photos of those who’re dead after taking the vaccines, and those are definitely more than the handful of what young deaths are reported in mainstream media. I don’t know if some of the vaccines (and remember each one uses a different mechanism) are 1) directly creating morbidities like life-threatening blood clots, or 2) increasing the risk considerably, or 3) totally coincidental. Blood clots & myocarditis look like 1) or 2).

    1) means the particular type of vaccine should be withdrawn and studied to find out the particular bugs that are causing those life-threatening side-effects, then fix it before the whole mechanism is discredited.
    2) means those vulnerable groups should be identified and some other type of vaccines that are much safer should be given to them, if they should ever receive one.
    3) means nothing.
    (These are assuming the vaccination campaign is worthwhile, which a lot will disagree)

    Antivaxxers want to lump the 3rd group into the 1st & 2nd and then use it as an excuse to protest & drop out of society until it’s at least safe for them to go back. They’re trying to shut down the conversation after the cabin fever of lockdowns gets to them – most of them started out hating lockdowns. From their viewpoint, they are totally right – the vaccine itself has never been legitimate, all the mandates and lockdowns too. What they call liberation is to abolish the COVID vaccine campaign, then trial the health experts and political leadership on Crimes Against Humanity they say the vaccination deaths & lockdowns are, and finally impose their own political visions that are mostly irrelevant to COVID, but against liberal, globalist politics (“Davos”). Stale and odious politics remain politics and while I wish things to be nicer, it probably won’t, since everyone wants to seize the crisis and its response to impose their agendas, and few of those are pretty.

    Anyway, I’m writing this post for Zvi to have a serious look at the stats for vaccine deaths and telling us whether that actually factors into our risk-benefit calculation on whether to take the vaccines.

    • TheZvi says:

      By all means continue to post such arguments, links and such here, but I am not going to be investigating ‘the vaccine death statistics’ or anything like that any further unless major new information comes to light in a way I do not expect. I have limited time, and the credible claims of such risks that I have seen are not in any serious danger of making the vaccines net negative. I’ve done that work enough. Further work would require paying me my happy price.

  17. Yellowface Anon says:

    I can’t wait for the next COVID/Omicron thread to post this.

    https://khn.org/news/article/fully-vaccinated-definition-boosters-ambiguity/
    “Some scientists point out that many vaccines involve three doses over six months for robust long-term protection, such as the shot against hepatitis. So “fully vaccinated” may need to include shot No. 3 to be considered a full course.”

    Israel’s Green Pass is currently valid for:
    1) Those 12 or older and have received a booster shot at least a week ago;
    2) Those within six months of having received a second vaccination shot;
    3) Those within six months of having tested positive for Covid-19.

    EU’s COVID Pass is valid for 270 days and it can be renewed by boosters and/or negative tests.

    This policy, which assumes routine revaccination to be necessary (again this isn’t clear, but more likely so in the face of Omicron), will lead to a 3rd group of people besides the current vaccinated – unvaccinated divide: Those who aren’t able to receive boosters despite being initially vaccinated. It’s adding to equity concerns, and even cultural war ones since some are willing to do the initial vaccinations but not routine revaccinations. So antivaxx (or rather anti-mandavaxx) sentiments will gradually build-up until the economic & social situation becomes unsustainable. For example, those who gain informal work because of vaccine mandates will be joined by those who have initially complied but refuses to continue to. Transitory work and social arrangements for the unvaccinated will be further strengthened by newcomers.

    We can actually expect weak points in the economy (e.g. staff shortages in critical sectors) and resentment to the handling of COVID in general to worsen tremendously if this proposal goes forward and rapidly, and this will lead to even more fractures in the already frail economic and ideological situation (Remember, Israel took 2 million Green Passes away when this came into force, so expect this to be significantly worse in the US)

  18. Pingback: Omicron Post #4 | Don't Worry About the Vase

  19. Pingback: Covid 12/9: Counting Down the Days | Don't Worry About the Vase

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